Posts Tagged ‘The Flare Path’

The Flare Path: A Frank Hexchange

The work of helmet restorers Alexander & Sons

Yesterday morning, quite by chance, I found myself sharing a tuk-tuk with one of my personal heroes. The six sides and rotational/reflection symmetries, the 120 degree internal angles, the faint whiff of blood and cordite… I recognised Theo Hexagon, aka ‘The Hex’, the moment he hopped aboard. By the time we hit our first traffic-jam, I’d introduced myself, whipped out a voice recorder and commenced an impromptu interview. A transcript of that all-too-brief exchange follows. If you’ve ever waged war on a battlefield draped with outsized chicken wire, the 1200-or-so words beyond the break should prove interesting.

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The Flare Path: Considers Going Rogue

Ever fallen out of love with one of gaming’s Big Themes? As a youngster sci-fi was my soylent green. I watched it, read it, and played it avidly. Sometime towards the end of the Eighties, however, something changed. History books and less fantastical forms of fiction began muscling out the Asimov and the Aldiss, the Bradbury and the Sheckley. Dust layers deepened on stacks of Starblazers and 2000ADs. Progress on my Blake’s Seven RPG/wargame slowed then halted. I stopped fantasising about Jenny Agutter in Logan’s Run. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Is Computer Ambushed

When Computer Ambush finally departs for that cherub-garrisoned VL in the sky, it can expect a star-studded send-off. If Close Combat, X-COM, Commandos, and Men of War aren’t amongst the pallbearers, I’ll be disappointed.

While the majority of his trailblazing contemporaries were focussing on naval skirmishes (limited computing power made wet warfare particularly attractive in the early days of PC wargame design) SSI‘s Ed Williger was bravely attempting to digitize squad-level WW2 urban combat. The result, Computer Ambush (1980), was flawed but breathtaking. Thirty-five years on, fighting your way through the game’s shell-ravaged French town is still a bally exciting business. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: In E-Boat Alley

According to the posters that adorned the walls of the library in my old secondary school, books have the power to “break hearts”, “stop bullets”, “move mountains”, “tear down prison walls” and “produce mild psychotropic effects in the minds of the sleep-deprived and feverish”. Since leaving school I’ve discovered that the written word is also rather good at damaging productivity and improving flawed videogames. Flawed videogames like PT Boats: Knights of the Sea.

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The Flare Path: Waterloot

You can’t move in the Flare Path office at the moment for Battle of Waterloo bicentennial gubbins. The place is overflowing with cuddly toys, commemorative cider selections, souvenir chess sets and branded Wellington boots. I’m currently storing my paper clips in a porcelain Hougoumont, opening my letters with a 1/5 scale cavalry sabre, and treating my piles with ‘Bonaparte Balm’ haemorrhoids cream. To be honest, most of the stuff is complete tat. The only items unlikely to end up in the bin or at a local charity shop by the end of the week are the Airfix gift set, the Lord Uxbridge action figure (superb attention to detail on the uniform, and the detachable leg is a lovely touch) and the copy of Scourge of War: Waterloo. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Missing Link

Back in the mid 1920s there wasn’t much point in going into a game retailer and asking to see their flight simulation selection. At best you’d be directed towards a display of dead pheasants, partridges and pigeons by a burly man with blood on his apron. At worst you’d be branded a “timewaster” and a “loon” by a burly man with blood on his apron, before being unceremoniously ejected from the shop. Until Edwin Albert Link’s electro-pneumatic pilot trainer arrived in 1929, flight simulation involved outstretched arms and enthusiastic droning; it was what children did on seeing the biplanes of touring barnstormers overhead. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Trainz And Tigerz

The appeal of trains: Rhythm. Racket. Clatter. Squeal. Sway. Jolt. Hiss. Bellow. Thrum. Gleam. Glint. Grime. Rust. Musk. Power. Precision. Toil. Stoicism. Blue-collar heroes. Uncomplaining beasts of burden. Giant steampunk millipedes. Countryside cleavers. Smoke wreathers. J. M. W. Turners. Midnight diadems. Tortured troglodytes. Reminders of a vanished world. Childhood’s branchline. Life’s express. Speed. Anticipation. Departure. Arrival. Exoticism. Mundanity. Predictability. Personality. Possibility. Peace. Pace. Onwards. Onwards.

The appeal of Trainz: A New Era: Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: Eras Of Judgement

Last week while I was busy snubbing Stock Car Extreme, Condor: The Competition Soaring Simulator, Deer Hunter: The 2005 Season, and countless other quality simulations, Australian developers N3V were busy outshopping Trainz: A New Era. According to their cock-a-hoop copywriter it’s ‘the best Train Simulation experience ever’! Unfortunately, the laptop that I’m toting round the West Country at present, begs to differ/dither. Flare Path’s TANE verdict will have to wait until I’m reunited with a more muscular rig. The best I can do right now is mull over what others are saying about this aspiring TS2015 toppler and recommend for a second time rapidly maturing roguelike Armoured Commander. Read the rest of this entry »

The 25 Best Simulation Games Ever Made

Ready to discover once-and-for-all whether X-Plane is better than FSX? Whether Falcon 4.0 is better than Milk Float Simulator 2012? Ready to read the word ‘realism’ 46 times in a single hour, and spit feathers on discovering that the sim that caused got you through your divorce has been cruelly cold-shouldered by an idiot with a bus fetish and a sci-fi blindspot the size of the Crab Nebula? You are? Splendid. You’re in the right place.

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The Flare Path: Postponed

Would you mind awfully taking that milk off the boil, ironing those antimacassars, collecting this prescription, and feeding Blohm and Voss for me (there are some dead mice on the second shelf down in the fridge)? I’m ludicrously busy today, so busy in fact today’s Flare Path has ended up shorter than a Brewster Buffalo with a calcium deficiency. Below the jump is a foxer and nothing else. Return at 2100hrs GMT and the reason for my blue-arsed fly impersonation will become clear.

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